Category Archives: Tech

HTC and Valve debut virtual reality headset

The device, called Vive, uses cutting-edge VR technology in the form of dual light sensors. Photo courtesy of Valve

The Oculus Rift is perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when virtual reality (VR) headsets are mentioned. The device, which was initially funded by a successful Kickstarter, is also supported by gaming industry veterans like John Carmack and Cliff Blezinski. The possibility of putting on a headset and immersing yourself in a different world became more possible after its success. However, competitors saw the rising popularity of the Oculus headset and have entered the market with their own products, like how Sony is bringing its own version of VR to gamers in the form of Project Morpheus, a headset catered specifically to work with Playstation 4 consoles. Competition has gotten even more fierce with the recent announcement of another VR headset called Vive, introduced at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco, a device created in collaboration with software company Valve and hardware company HTC.

What sets Vive apart from the Oculus and Morpheus headsets is the inclusion of light sensors built into the product itself. Competitors have used a single point, such as a camera, to detect the user and estimate his or her place in a 3d space. The Vive headset instead uses two transmitters that would have to be placed in the room so that the wearer’s light sensors can communicate with the transmitters. Thus, an extra level of freedom is given by not having the 3D space limited to the peripheral view of a single point. The user has a longer range of freedom to walk around the room. This works opposite of how Morpheus and Oculus detects the user by reversing the roles of the cameras’ tracking properties and having the user become the camera. Think of it as the freedom of running on a treadmill versus running in your neighborhood.

The best part about this all? Valve is releasing its lighthouse technology for free so that other VR manufacturers such as Sony and Oculus can adopt it into their hardware. Imagine playing Goat Simulator with a Vive. Someone should develop a device that connects to our tongues so that we can not only be a goat, but eat and taste virtual grass as well for maximum points.

Y Generation: Afraid of dating?

Artwork by Alec Fernandes/Xpress Magazine

Comments that Judah passengers left online at "We Met On the N"
Comments that Judah passengers left online at “We Met On the N”

The comments above are just some of the many posts on the new matchmaking website, “We Met on the N” , created by Alex Lee at the beginning of February. Similar to Craigslist’s “Missed Connection” page, “We Met on the N” is an online site where Judah passengers can write secret admirer notes to people on the Muni train in a passive effort to set up a date. This new online dating site is just one of the many websites and mobile apps that is used by people to find the perfect match.

Online dating has been an option for the single and ready to mingle since the birth of the notorious in 1995.  According to The Pew Research Center Online Dating & Relationships report, 38 percent of current single U.S. adults have used an online dating site or dating app. Now with a plethora of smart phone dating apps on the market, like Tinder, Hinge, The League, OK Cupid and Grindr, the dating world is an oyster for people who don’t have a relationship status listed on their Facebook.

Big Data Seeks Online Love states that one in 10 Americans have used a dating site or mobile app. The Pew report states that 22 percent of online dating sites and app users are in their mid twenties.

Dating apps and online sites are helpful for someone with a busy lifestyle who simply doesn’t have time to go out to new bars and scan the room for that special someone. But are apps like Coffee Meets Bagel simply used as a cop-out for someone who doesn’t have the confidence to go up to that cute guy at Philz and ask him on a date? Does our generation prefer to hide behind a screen and accept rejection in the privacy of our room, instead of taking the risk of being publicly denied?

Lee said watching a passenger ask a girl out on a date was his inspiration for creating the site.

“It was maybe a Thursday or Friday evening [when] I saw a guy sit down and introduce himself to a girl. Bold move,” Lee says. “And that just made me think there must be a lot of people who want to introduce themselves to someone they find interesting or attractive, but it’s just too painfully awkward.”

Do people in their 20’s now turn to using apps and online sites to find a date because we don’t want to risk a painfully awkward moment? Watch the video below to hear what SF State students have to say about their experiences on dating apps.

Faceless Opinions


Do you ever get the feeling that your friends aren’t telling you the truth? Do you consistently chastise your significant other for their vacuous responses to existential questions such as, “do you like my new haircut?” Do the opinions of others affect your sense of self? Does this type of acute paranoia have a detrimental effect on your ability to maintain relationships with family and friends?

Kander is a new app, released last month, fashioned as a mix between Instagram and Tinder, wherein users receive anonymous votes on their photos from their followers or the public. The interface allows two options for voting: either a single photo is posted (LoneShots), which users then swipe right to like or left to dislike; or, two photos are aligned together vertically (DuelPics), giving voters an either-or choice. Comments can also be posted anonymously until a given expiration time when usernames are then made public.

“My vision for Kander is to create a social media platform that allows users to get honest opinions from friends in a fun and engaging manner,” writes CEO, co-founder and creator Anthony Alcazar.

This anonymous voting interface differentiates Kander from other social media. Twitter and Facebook have likes, Tinder has matches, and Tumblr has reblogs—information that, while virtual, is still tied to the real-life you. Kander, however, offers faceless interaction—an ability to tell your friends what you really think. This approach raises a few questions. Does a lack of anonymity vitiate our ability to be honest? And, more importantly, what are the effects of rooting self-confidence in the opinions of others?

A 2006 study, published by CyberPsychology & Behavior, found that adolescents ages 10 to 19 who received positive feedback on a Dutch friend-networking site displayed increased social self-esteem and well-being; conversely, those who received negative feedback displayed the opposite effects. While this information may seem patently obvious, it illustrates that, for some, internet feedback has a symbiotic relationship with real-life well-being.

The ability for people to communicate anonymously on the internet is certainly not new. Tumblr allows for users to anonymously communicate, while numerous websites from Yelp to Amazon utilize commenting platforms wherein users can voice their opinions under the faceless guise of anonymity.

The launch of Kander signifies another step in this direction for social media users. The company’s assertion that the app will “capture the opinions of those who matter most to you,” takes a certain premise for granted: that without anonymity, we are unable to be honest with each other. For some, this may be a frightening prospect, a prospect that the potential future success of Kander may vindicate.

SpaceX launches DSCOVR Satellite

Falcon 9 carrying DSCOVR, Courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


After two delays caused by weather, SpaceX launched the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite yesterday to beam back information about potentially harmful solar ejections heading toward earth.

With new instrumentation and quicker response times, the $340 million DSCOVR satellite will replace NASA’s old Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE), which was launched in 1997. Both are designed to alert and study solar eruptions that can be destructive here on earth.

Courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
DSCOVR imaging capabilities, Courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

“These geomagnetic storms can be very damaging to critical infrastructure on earth such as power grids, aviation communication systems, and satellites in orbit,” said Tom Gerber, the director of NOAA’S Space Weather Prediction Office, in the DSCOVR mission video.

DSCOVR will reach it’s observation post in 110 days: Lagrange Point One, staying in orbit between the gravitational equilibrium of the earth and sun. This Lagrange Point, of which there are five, is nearly 940,000 miles from earth, or four times the distance the moon is from earth.

Courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
DSCOVR during diagnostics, Courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Although the satellite launch was successful, SpaceX could not recover the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket for reuse. Inclement weather in the Atlantic halted the ability of its drone ship to provide an adequate landing pad.

“Unfortunately we will not be able to attempt to recover the first stage of the Falcon 9,” the post-launch report said. “The drone ship is designed to operate in all but the most serious weather… We are experiencing just such weather in the Atlantic.”

This is SpaceX’s first deep-space launch, and overall, a successful one in the eyes of the company’s founder, Elon Musk.

“Primary mission on target,” Musk tweeted after the launch. “Spacecraft headed towards the sun! All good there.”

Facebooking from the Grave

Facebook is our home away from home, a place where we escape our class lectures and focus on more important things, such as cyber-stalking our ex-boyfriends and seeing if we’re doing better than them. Facebook has over 1.23 billion monthly active users and it makes you wonder, when a user dies what happens to his or her Facebook account?

Well, it used to be when Facebook found out that someone had died, they would freeze the account making it impossible for friends and relatives to see or use it again. Today, Facebook has changed its ways and allows users to designate another “legacy” user for when you die, because you know when you’re dead someone still needs to update your status.

Facebook announced today a legacy contact that will allow someone else to update statuses, post pictures and accept friend requests on your profile. The legacy contact, however, cannot delete anything off the Facebook page and also cannot access private messages, so don’t worry — some things you do get to take to the grave.

The new legacy feature on Facebook. Photo by: Tami Benedict/ Xpress Magazine
Here is a look at Facebook’s new legacy feature, via a screenshot taken by Tami Benedict.

To create a legacy contact, all you need to do is go to Settings > Security > Legacy Contact. You can choose only one legacy contact and this contact cannot pass the duty onto someone else, so make sure you choose the right person. Once you name a legacy contact, Facebook will send him or her an email explaining the role, but maybe you want to talk to the person before that email is actually sent.

Now some may wonder how Facebook knows we are actually dead. It’s easy actually. All one needs to do is fill out a form on Facebook letting them know who died and when and then adding a link to an obituary or some other proof of death. This lets the admins at Facebook review the obit and grant access to the legacy contact.

Hooray for our Facebook pages outliving us! Nothing is more important than that status update: #imdeadbutmyhomiegotsme

Smartphone case lets you print photos

Photo courtesy of Prynt

Remember the good ol’ days when you got excited for a photo to develop? And then after three minutes of patiently waiting, you found out you had the perfect smile but your eyes were closed? Yeah, I miss the fun that came with instant photos too.

Polaroid discontinued film in 2008, and ever since then instant film photography has become this hipster trend. There are apps like Instant and Polamatic, which add white polaroid-like frames and filters to your photos. Cameras like Fuji Film’s Insta Max 8 and 210, have become a popular accessory for tweens and hipsters. But I don’t blame them. There’s just something genuinely special about instant film and holding something tangible. So I was intrigued when I heard about Prynt, a phone case that turns your smartphone into a modern Polaroid camera.

Prynt lets you print photos straight from your phone. Just attach the case to your iPhone or Android device and take a photo using the app. Within 30 seconds an image emerges from the case. You can even print photos from your camera album, Instagram and Facebook.

Like a Polaroid, the case comes with 10 “rolls” of photo paper, and you can restock on the digital film through the app. It’s powered by a battery and works offline.

In 2011, graphic designer Mac Funamizu came up with a similar concept called The Sophie. But unlike Funamizu’s product, Prynt has this augmented-reality feature. Each time you take a photo, the app records a short video. When you hold your phone over the printed image, your photo comes to life.

There are some downsides to this gadget though. The case is too bulky. So it probably won’t fit in your pocket. As of now, it’s only available for the iPhone 5 and 6 and the Galaxy S4 and S5.

According to the Kickstarter campaign, the product is currently under development. It’s expected to be released this summer for $99.

 Video courtesy of Prynt





Club Nintendo announces new rewards before service closes

Mourning the loss of Club Nintendo, with exclusive items from the program on display. Photo/Graphic by Caty McCarthy.

Club Nintendo is a U.S.-based rewards program by gaming giant Nintendo, offering digital and physical prizes in exchange for coins earned from registering first-party Nintendo games and filling out surveys. After its seven years of service, Club Nintendo is coming to an end on June 30, 2015, but not without some final prizes to offer members.

I’ve been a member of the joyous rewards program for as long as I can remember (I cannot recall anything in my life prior to 2008, apparently). I’ve redeemed prizes, hoarded coins, shaken my fist at the screen when I didn’t have enough for that rare gold nunchuk, used my Club Nintendo-exclusive Pikmin tote bag whenever a situation required it, for like, shopping and stuff. There were various instances where before purchasing a game I asked, “But can I register this game on Club Nintendo???” I even got the delightful invitation to attend the Wii U Experience at Fort Mason for being a Club Nintendo member, where myself and friends were able to play the Wii U before anyone else. We drank blue-tinted Jones soda and ate cookies that said #WiiU, and posed with Nintendo-related props for pictures. I love Club Nintendo and all it has to offer, and that’s why when Nintendo announced its closure a fortnight ago I got really sad.

On February 2, however, President of Nintendo of America Reggie Fils-Aimé parted the figurative clouds of Club Nintendo, revealing a staggering slew of new rewards. It’s their way of saying “spend your coins or you’ll regret it.” A host of 117 games total, including Earthbound, Super Metroid, Game & Wario, Super Mario 3D Land, and The Wonderful 101, and 13 new physical rewards are now available to Club Nintendo members. Among the most enticing of the physical rewards include exclusive posters, a classy 2016 calendar, adorable pastel-hued Animal Crossing playing cards, a Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask messenger bag, and even a Majora’s Mask jigsaw puzzle.

The final day to register games for coins is March 31, and the last day to redeem coins for rewards is June 30. On July 1, Club Nintendo will shut down for good to be eventually replaced by an as-of-yet unannounced new rewards program by Nintendo.

Alas, Club Nintendo is nearly dead and buried, and what a sad thing that is. But at least they’re going out with a bang.

Apps to get you moving in the morning

Photo under  Creative Commons by Steven Lilley
Photo under Creative Commons by Steven Lilley

With summer officially over, fun late nights turn into study sessions and mornings become a challenge of how many times you can successfully hit the snooze button before being late.

The bad habit of hitting the snooze button can get some of us in trouble though, causing us to be late for whatever we originally set the alarm for in the first place. So what can we do to become more of a morning person and less of a late person?

There is an easy solution for that or a better way of saying it, there is an app for that. Companies are now creating apps that literally force you to put some work into turning your alarm off, virtually making it impossible to go back to sleep after the task is completed, honestly if you can go back to sleep after these, please YouTube it.





Better Me is a free app that publicly shames you every time you hit the snooze button by posting a status to your Facebook saying you were too weak to get up. So if you don’t want to look like a weak, lazy person, the goal is to not hit the snooze.

Walk Up is an alarm that makes you literally get out of bed and walk a certain number of steps before the alarm will shut off. The worse part about this app is the alarm, which is a screaming male or female voice. You can program the app with how many steps you want to take and cost ninety-nine cents. This app is also available for Android but it is called Walk Me Up!.


FreakyAlarm is the evil of all evil alarm clock apps. This baby has 30 different alarms that can go off and the snooze button will not work. The only way to turn your alarm off is to do a series of tasks which  include solving math, taking pictures of items around your house or scanning barcodes. It costs one dollar and ninety-nine cents in the app store.



Morning Routine which is also free, is even worse. In order to get your alarm to turn off you must walk around your house and scan the bar codes of items that are incorporated into your morning routine, like your toothpaste. Another app similar to Morning Routine is Alarmy also known as Sleep If You Can which is essentially the same except you take pictures instead of scanning a bar code. Yes, go ahead and selfie with your milk carton.

Alarm Clock Xtreme makes you do basic math questions and gets that brain working before the alarm will turn off. You can program the app yourself by designing how many math problems you want to complete and the difficulty of the math problem. This app would never work for me, I fail at math and would destroy my phone trying to turn the alarm off.

Alarm Clock Plus is the same thing as FreakAlarm but for the Android. It has a combination of task you much complete before your alarm will shut off. It has a cool nap feature on it, and who doesn’t like awesome naps but also can be displayed as a normal beside clock.

These apps would definitely help me wake up and in the morning and never be late to a class again. What about you? Would you consider using one of these apps to prevent being late?

Still Sort of Gr8 – iOS8 Impressions

Disclaimer: This was tested using a 64 gigabyte iPhone 5.

iOS7 was a drastic step up from iOS6. Apple finally hit their stride by streamlining what they had, borrowing from Android, and making it look a whole hell of a lot slicker. It has been a year since iOS7 was pushed on us and I still have not grown weary of its look or functionality.

With that praise comes almost a preemptive strike against iOS8, the newest iteration on Apple’s operating system for (most of its) phones and tablets. iOS8 offers a few new features – ones that improve the experience – but it is not anything radically different or any sort of game changer.

My most anticipated feature was the way in which you could respond to notifications. Switching apps to answer a text was not the most convenient way to get things done. Now you can respond directly through the notification bar, which eliminates a step and works pretty well. Sometimes the small buttons are easy to accidentally press, but it is a tiny nitpick nestled within a great addition.

The actual keyboard that you type with has a “new” suggestion box, one that Android has had for ages. It can be useful at times, but you can push it down if you feel like it is cramping your style… or the literal space on your keyboard. This feature was seemingly made for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus since it takes up a bit of space that the iPhone 5 was not really designed for. Because of this, it is easy to accidentally keep pressing in different phrases when you mean to send your message. Luckily, it can be pulled down to give more room to the rest of the keyboard, which is something I feel most iPhone veterans will do. Most of the time anyway; some apps have yet to adopt some of these new features (like Facebook Messenger).


Other than that, iOS8 is just sort of… there. Neat additions like seeing which apps drain the most battery, double-tapping the home button to see recent contacts, and exiting a group text are welcome, incremental improvements, but nothing really matches what Apple has done in the past. That is mostly a backhanded compliment since it took them so long to finally catch up with competition. But now they are at the finish line with nothing to really rally around, except their new lame fitness app.

But it is a free update, one that does not impede current users nor does it make the entire experience worse. iOS has finally reached a point where most of the big issues have been addressed which allows them to rest on their laurels as much as it should encourage them to step up and really innovate. But for now, we should just complain about our free U2 album, because that is the real tragedy here.

Twist of Fate – Destiny Review

Platforms: PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Release Date: September 9, 2014

Destiny is the child spun out of divorce.

After splitting from Microsoft in 2007 and subsequently the Halo franchise, developer Bungie has executed a vision of the next generation of shooters that feels like it was thought up before the technology could support it. Destiny is the first part of a ten-year vision, merging the MMO (massively multiplayer online) mission structure with a first-person shooter. Hype and developer pedigree has carried this game since its unveiling, but only its pure quality can propel it past its release. Unfortunately, Destiny falls into the trap of many ambitious new franchises by failing to move pasts its good ideas and solid foundation.

Continue reading Twist of Fate – Destiny Review

Top Five iOS 8 Features

Photo courtesy of Apple

Written by Michael Leri
Apple has conditioned us every year to not only anticipate and salivate over a new phone, but a new operating system as well. iOS8 marks yet another chapter in the long list of yearly improvements that Apple has promised its faithful user base, all of which range from “meh” to “I need that now.”

5. Apple Pay

Ignore Google Wallet. That never happened. Apple leads in innovation so we’re all going to talk about the new thing from Apple: Apple Pay. Your wallet may be a thing of the past… except the fact that you’ll need your driver’s license, your dollar bills, your gift cards that your mom always buys you, and the condoms that you’ll sadly see expire. Coming in October in the United States, iOS8 users will be able to pay in various places like Subway, Starbucks, Panera, and more with their Apple Pay account. It comes at such a time where our trust in Apple’s security are at an all-time high.

4. Health

I don’t really exercise; I’m just planning to cruise through my life on a fast metabolism and a healthy supply of carrots. However, Apple’s new focus on health and fitness might intrigue the athletically inclined. This new app tracks all aspects of your life for a more detailed look on what you’ve been doing. Your sleep schedule, exercise regimen, and dietary habits are all stored on this device along with your heart rate, blood sugar, amount of burned calories, and cholesterol levels. All of this information being in one place in the supercomputer in your pocket lets you chronicle your health in an easy-to-read way, making it simple to see when you’ve hit rock bottom.

3. Connectivity

We all know how impenetrable iCloud is. It’s like a digital Fort Knox that’s situated on Alcatraz that just so happens to be on Mars. It’s impossible to crack and steal pictures from and leak them all over Reddit. That same wonderful security is now available on your iPad as well as your iPhone. You’ll never be without those pictures of that one time Stacey got drunk and arrested thanks to iCloud’s new ability to share your photos across your devices. Searching has also been improved, along with editing, making the whole approach more streamlined and user-friendly. Now your totally-safe nudes will at least look nicer.

2. Smart keyboard

I ducking hate the autocorrect on the iPhone keyboard sometimes. It just doesn’t know me like it should. Apple knows this, hence the overhaul given to the keyboard, called QuickType. Whether its your boss, your wife, or your mistress, the device will know what kind of language to use, be it formal or informal.

That may change how you type, but it doesn’t change what you type. That’s what the predictive text is for. Like Android, a few recommended words will pop up above the keys, giving you a selection of different ways to express your apathy. Apple is also giving third parties access to the keyboards, opening up the possibilities of how you can type. So now you can blame autocorrect less and less for you mistakes.

1. Responding to notifications

The biggest (and most important) addition is the way in which you can respond to notifications. Rather than slugglishly switching from app to app to answer messages or read emails, you can answer a text, accept an invitation, or mark an email as read without leaving your session of Threes. Streamlining notifications and switching apps less makes the whole experience smoother and more seamless. It makes the whole OS a single experience rather than a segmented collection of apps and data.

iOS8 is set to be released on September 17th for every phone from the iPhone 4S forward, the 5th generation iPod Touch, and every iPad from the iPad 2 on. If only they would change the real atrocity: the ability to turn off when my battery hits 20%.

Stretch Out The Stress

Photo by Giuseppe Savo / Flickr
Photo by Giuseppe Savo / Flickr

Written by Thomas Figg-Hoblyn
Photos by Ryan Leibrich

It’s that time of the semester again Gators –research papers, essays, finals – cramming.

But it’s time to consider the damage done to one’s body from cramming for hours on end, banging away on a keyboard, jacked on caffeine, hunched over a laptop or PC like a starving man over a bowl of soup.

Slouching, twisting, and folding painfully as one pimps out the body for that grade – sacrificing health. It doesn’t have to be that way though.

Step back from the computer, take a deep breath and give your health a boost by taking a stretch break.

Taking breaks and stretching on cue, to the guidance of a software program is now a viable option for SF State students thanks to the effort of Erik Peper Ph.D., professor and co-founder of SF State’s Institute of Holistic Health Studies.

rik Peper, Professor of Holistic Health at SF State. Photo Ryan Leibrich / Xpress
Erik Peper, Professor of Holistic Health at SF State. Photo Ryan Leibrich / Xpress

Peper, a smiling Dutchman with a keen sense of humor and a penchant for healing, is an internationally recognized biofeedback expert and successful author. His list of articles, books, projects, and innovations in healing reads like an unedited Jack Kerouac novel.

Peper has made Stretch Break Pro, an ergonomic software program that helps reduce stress, increase productivity and prevent computer related injuries by gently reminding the user to take periodic stretch breaks while using the computer, available to the SF State community. The program also provides healthy computing tips and suggests specific stretches, with written and visual directions for their performance.

While working with the software’s distributor Para Technologies, Peper swayed them to give SF State access to the program.

“It’s about a $140,000 donation,” Peper says.

The campus community is invited to download and use the computer program Stretch Break Pro at no cost.

That’s right folks – increase productivity, and pamper your body, for FREE! Peper invites all students, faculty and staff to download the software  and install it on their work and home computers.

According to Peper, taking frequent breaks and remaining active while working is another vital component of computing health. “Taking many breaks really reduces exhaustion and illness,” Peper says. “People who take many breaks have much fewer symptoms.”

Taking frequent breaks from work may seem counterintuitive, but according to Peper, your productivity doesn’t go down, it goes slightly up.

Stretch Break Pro runs in the background, prompting the user to take breaks at chosen intervals. Once the “Time to Stretch!” reminder appears on the screen, the user can click through to hear relaxing music and see an animated demonstration of a stretch or series of stretches to perform.

After noting the effectiveness of Stretch Break Pro in research studies, Peper  made arrangements with Para Technologies to donate a license of the software to SF State.

Para Technologies President Arthur Saltzman said the donation was the result of collaboration with Peper on the latest version of Stretch Break. “He gave permission to incorporate his Healthy Computing Email Tips into the program and I agreed to donate a license to SF State,” he says.

So go ahead and get back to your cramming. Get jacked on energy drinks, coffee, tea – or whatever your flavor is and get cracking. But, download Stretch Break Pro, and get better results, and take those stretches and breaks so you don’t injure yourself.

“When you actually do it, I can promise you an improvement in energy by the end of the day,” Peper says.

It might not be as fun as the seventh-inning stretch at the ball game, or the Chicken Dance, but hey, one never knows.

To download Stretch Break Pro, visit and follow the directions.

Windows users can download Stretch Break at

Mac users can get their copy from

For both versions, the user name is “bringit” and the password is “home63″.